MADISON, Wisc. –
The Vanderbilt women's cross country team will test itself against the nation's elite on Friday when they compete in the 10th
annual Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational.
A pair of redshirt juniors, Sara Tsai
and Caroline Pietrzyk
, will lead a group of 14 Commodores into the Nuttycombe Invitational, which features 15 of the top-30 teams in the most recent Women's Cross Country National Coaches' poll.
Thirty-three teams and more than 230 runners from across the nation will compete on the Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course near the University of Wisconsin. The meet will serve as a preview to the NCAA Cross Country Championships which are scheduled at the venue in mid-November.
In addition to Tsai and Pietrzyk, Vanderbilt will send senior Devon Grisbaum
, juniors Kendall Derry
and Mailin Struck
, sophomore Anna Grace Morgan
and freshman Haley Walker
in the six-kilometer Nuttycombe Invitational. Six more Commodores – juniors Kacie Breeding
, Reagan Bustamante
, sophomores Emily Cohen
and Gillian Mortimer
, and freshmen Alena Sapienza-Wright
and Grace Jensen
will compete in an open division 6K before the invitational race.
Vanderbilt cross country coach Steve Keith
expects to find out plenty about his Commodore squad at the invitational.
"We are facing a very deep and talented field in Madison, but it should be a great challenge for our girls," Keith said. "We'll find out a lot more about our squad on Friday, but I expect us to run well and compete at a high level."
The Nuttycombe Invitational is expected to feature No. 1 New Mexico, No. 2 Colorado, No. 5 Boise State, No. 6 NC State, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 8 Villanova, No. 9 Arkansas, No. 13 Penn State, No. 15 Michigan State, No. 17 Iowa State, No. 19 Indiana and No. 25 Providence.
Vanderbilt is coming off a strong result at the Commodore Classic, held Sept. 15 at Percy-Warner Park in Nashville. The Commodores finished third among 19 teams at the home meet with a total of 133 points. They were edged by pair of Big Ten schools, Ohio State and Illinois.
Tsai, from Eugene, Ore., paced Vanderbilt's result at the Commodore Classic with a 12th
-place individual effort, running the 5K distance in 17:48. Pietrzyk, a product of Malibu, Calif., trailed Tsai with a 26th
-place finish in 18:13.10.
Tsai and Pietrzyk also impressed in their first race of the fall, running second and eighth overall respectively at the Auburn Invitational.
Keith is looking for Walker, Grisbaum, Derry, Struck and Morgan to compete with Tsai and Pietrzyk for team points.